Rite Aid, Albertsons merger gains momentum with HSR expiration
Rite Aid Thursday morning announced that the HSR waiting period (under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976) in connection with its previously announced merger with Albertsons, expired this midnight past.
“The expiration of the HSR waiting period is an important step toward completing the proposed transaction with Albertsons which will create a truly differentiated leader in food, health and wellness to meet the evolving needs of customers,” John Standley, Rite Aid chairman and CEO, said. “We remain focused on combining our two organizations to drive growth, profitability and long-term shareholder value.”
The expiration of the waiting period under the HSR Act satisfies one of the conditions to the closing of the merger, which remains subject to other customary closing conditions, including the approval of Rite Aid’s stockholders.
The initial HSR statutory waiting period, implemented to give both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice time to review the deal, typically is 30 days. That waiting period can be extended when either the FTC or DOJ determines the deal warrants further investigation, as was the case when Walgreens Boots Alliance’s proposed acquisition of Rite Aid was still active.
The expiration of the HSR statutory waiting period will allow Jim Donald, Albertsons president and COO, and his team to start rolling up their sleeves and begin planning the proposed integration in earnest. Donald, whose resume includes six years as president and CEO of Starbucks, is extensively familiar with both companies. He had previously held senior leadership roles at both Albertsons and Safeway and also served as a member of the board of directors of Rite Aid from 2008 to 2013.
“Jim Donald has built an exceptional career in retail. His knowledge of our company and industry is unmatched, and I know his contributions will be invaluable as we enter the next chapter of Albertsons Companies,” Bob Miller, Albertsons Companies chairman and CEO, said at the time of Donald’s appointment. “We look forward to tapping his expertise in leading large consumer brands as we work every day to meet our customers’ needs, both in-store and online.”
With the Albertsons-Rite Aid merger, originally announced in February, the combined operation is poised to become the No. 4 retail pharmacy operator in terms of pharmacy sales.
Walmart’s Riedl to depart
George Riedl, senior vice president of Walmart health and wellness, will be departing the company, effective March 16, according to a memo from Marybeth Hays, Walmart U.S.’s executive vice president of consumables and health and wellness.
Riedl joined Walmart in 2015 from Advanced Marketing & Sales. Before that, he had spent 27 years with Walgreens, where he held various roles, culminating in his stint as chief merchant. At Walmart, Hays said Riedl helped grow the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s partnerships with McKesson and Quest Diagnostics to enhance its generics sourcing and make Walmart more of a one-stop health destination. He also played a role in Walmart’s recently rolled out DisposeRx program, which is part of Walmart’s efforts to lead in responsible opioid stewardship, Hays said.
“George is a true servant leader and his team will continue to advance Walmart’s position in the industry by passionately advocating for our patients — helping them save money and live better,” Hays’ memo said. A Walmart spokesperson did not comment on whether the company has named a successor.
Albertsons debuts service to track digital ad performance
Albertsons unveiled a new service designed to help consumer brands figure out whether their digital ads are working.
The supermarket giant launched Albertsons Performance Media, a digital media capability designed to improve the digital advertising performance of its CPG brand partners. The technology, powered by Quotient, uses proprietary shopper data to drive more targeted sales across Albertsons’ network of more than 2,300 stores in 35 states.
The technology will create more targeted and relevant ad campaigns that will be shared across mobile, social and web channels. These could be digital coupons, in-store specials, and “add-to-cart” incentives for online purchases. Brands that use the service will deliver campaigns across Albertsons’ digital properties, as well as Quotient’s and third-party properties that serve digital ads — including all major digital publishers.
The solution also uses advanced analytics to measure performance by linking ad views to a shopper’s verified purchase — and Albertsons already has more than 30 million verified buyers, according to the company.
These more targeted ads are expected to grow sales by driving product trial, winning new customers, and appealing to repeat buyers, Albertsons said.
“The launch of Albertsons Performance Media is a significant milestone in our journey to being more tightly integrated in the digital grocery ecosystem,” said Narayan Iyengar, senior VP of digital and e-commerce at Albertsons Companies. “With this capability, we aspire to deepen our digital relationships with our CPG vendor partners while also being more relevant to our digitally savvy customers.”
Albertsons, which has been piloting the efforts with major brands, said return on the investment so far has proven three times the average of similar efforts. It has also signed up more than 60 consumer companies for the program, according to CNBC.
This is not Albertsons’ first try at gaining traction across the digital and e-commerce landscape. The company recently joined forces with delivery service Instacart, a move to offer same-day delivery of online orders to customers in as little as an hour. The grocer plans to make the service available in more than 1,800 of Albertsons’ banners across the country by mid-2018.
Albertsons was also the first national grocery retailer to acquire a prepared-meals company. The supermarket chain acquired online meal company Plated last fall.